The Champions League returns this week and Group H is going to be one of the most fascinating to follow. Tottenham have been drawn to face Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and APOEL. Their opening fixture is at Wembley as they host Dortmund in a clash that they will be looking to win. The Germans have more experience in this competition and it will be a real test of Spurs’ ability at the highest level. Last season, Mauricio Pochettino’s men failed to make it to the knockout rounds and a similar failure during this campaign would make for a concerning trend.
Tottenham have done well to consolidate their position in the competition as they have qualified for the season successive season. They have made progress in the Premier League and their players will now have ambitions to do well in Europe. Although the group draw didn’t go as they would have liked, they have enough ability in their squad to progress to the next round. It is somewhat unfortunate that they have been given Dortmund at home during the first round of fixtures. There will be a lot of pressure on them to get a result and that could weigh heavily on them on Wednesday night.
Their opponents are going through a transition phase and could be there for the taking in this group. During the summer, they chose to replace Thomas Tuchel with Peter Bosz. The former Ajax manager has a good reputation for an exciting brand of football and developing young players. They were two massive reasons for Dortmund bringing him to the club. Last season, he led Ajax to the Europa League final and the German club will be hoping that he can replicate that success in the Champions League this season. It will be a huge ask, but they have the talent in the squad to progress deep into the competition.
- These two sides have only met twice before in competition and that came during the 2015-16 Europa League campaign. Dortmund progressed on that occasion with the aggregate score being 5-1.
- Harry Kane has now scored 101 goals for Tottenham across all competitions. He will be desperate to prove himself in the Champions League this season.
- Dortmund have yet to concede a goal this season in the Bundesliga, as they have kept three successive clean sheets.
The Danish international has developed a lot during the last 12 months and he has emerged as one of the best players in the Premier League. His consistency is unrivalled and he will be desperate to carry that form into the Champions League. Tottenham have a lot of players that are considered leading performers in the Premier League, but they few have proven that at the very highest level. Their performances in this competition last season were underwhelming and there will be a desire to put that right during this campaign. The absence of Dele Alli is a huge blow and it will increase the need for a good performance from Eriksen. Dortmund have been impressive defensively so far this season and they will be tough for Tottenham to break down. The midfielder will have to find space between the lines and create chances for the likes of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min. When Eriksen plays well, Tottenham do too and he will be their most important player until Alli returns from suspension.
It was a surprise that the 28-year-old stayed at Dortmund during the summer as there was interest from PSG and AC Milan. However, the German club have managed to keep hold of him for at least another season and he will be vital to their chances of progression in this group. The striker has already scored twice in the Bundesliga and will be relishing the opportunity of testing himself in this group. During last season’s Champions League, he was a constant threat and scored seven goals in nine appearances. It is obvious that he is one of the best strikers in Europe and he is now in the peak of his career. His pace and movement caused Tottenham problems when they met two season’s ago. Although Spurs have improved, he will still be the player they fear from Dortmund. If they can keep him at bay, the English club can be confident of a positive result.
Victor Wanyama won’t be available for the hosts as he continues to recover from a knee injury. Mousa Dembele could return to the starting eleven and that will provide a boost to the midfield. Moussa Sissoko is a doubt, while Dele Alli will be missing though suspension.
Marcel Schmelzer and Marc Bartra are expected to miss the trip to Wembley, which does create problems at the back for the visitors. They will join Marco Reus, Raphael Guerreiro, Andre Schurrle, Erik Durm and Sebastian Rode on the sidelines.
This is going to be a huge test of Tottenham’s Champions League credentials. It is a blow to be missing Victor Wanyama and Dele Alli, as both are central to the way that the team plays. However, they still have enough talent to overcome a Dortmund team in transition. The Germans have a good team with a lot of potential, but they aren’t as far along as Spurs are in their development. This is already a huge game for Mauricio Pochettino and his squad. They should have enough to get the win, but it won’t be a walk in the park for the North London club.